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Theophrastus

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Theophrastus, called as the father of botany,a multifaceted personality was born at Eresos, and lived between 372 B.C- 288 B.C. His original name was Tyrtamus. He was the pupil of Aristotle, and Plato. Theophrastus was appointed as Aristotle's successor, when Aristotle was forced to leave Athens about 322.

At that time that all the manuscripts and writings of Aristotle were bequeathed to Theophrastus. Theophrastus became head of the school called The Lyceum. The Lyceum was a gymnasium near Athens and the site of a philosophical school founded by Aristotle. He reorganized and enlarged the Lyceum and continued as leader for 35 years. He bought an adjoining estate, enlarged the garden. He is believed to have had more than 2,000 pupils.

Two hundred and twenty-seven treatises are attributed to Theophrastus dealing with religion, politics, ethics, education, rhetoric, mathematics, astronomy, logic, meterology, natural history etc.

Theophrastus spent, just like his teacher, the decisive years of his life in Athens, where he gathered a lot of pupils and was in charge of the first existing botanical garden

Theophrastus classified plants into trees, shrubs, undershrubs, and herbs. He described and discussed more than 500 species and varieties of plants from lands bordering the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Theophrastus noticed that some flowers bear petals whereas others do not, and observed the different relative positions of the petals and ovary. In his work on propagation and germination, Theophrastus described the various ways in which specific plants and trees can grow: from seeds, from roots, from pieces torn off, from a branch or twig, or from a small piece of cleft wood.

Theophrastus works in botany are the earliest of their kind in world literature. They are excellent and he is called as the "Father of Botany." The two books are listed as follows:

  • 1. A Descriptive, Historia de Plantis (History of Plants or Inquiring into Plants).
  • 2. A Physiological - De Causis Plantarums (The Causes of plants/About the Reasons of Vegetable Growth).

Some other works of Theophrastus

  • Among Theophrastus' other works is the Physikon doxai or Opinions of Natural Philosophers. As reconstructed by Herman Diels in Doxographi Graeci (1879), it provides a foundation for the history of ancient philosophy.
  • His notable Charakteres (many English translations) consists of 30 brief and vigorous character sketches delineating moral types derived from studies that Aristotle had made for ethical and rhetorical purposes.

Facts About his works

  • Both his both works were published, when Pope NICHOLAS V ordered the Greek T. GAZA to translate them into Latin (published 1483 in Treviso).
  • In 1497, a new version, that contained partly more and partly less mistakes than the preceding one, was published.
  • The first German translation was done by K. SPRENGEL in 1822.

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